Why 2016 will be the Year of Veganism

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”

If you had access to the Internet in 2015, you probably noticed that vegetarianism and veganism – and the latter in particular – have become a “trend”.

So, what is this thing everyone is on about?

Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.

As you can see, veganism is not defined as a diet, but a way of living.”[1]

I have long avoided writing anything about the topic. Until very recently I didn’t know why. Since I am usually very outspoken, this seemed odd to me. After confronting myself about the reasons, I realised that I wasn’t writing about it because I was afraid. Afraid of being judged as someone “imposing their beliefs”, “telling others how to live”, or even as “having first world problems”.

However, I don’t want my decisions to be based on fear.

I have always stood up for what I believed was right. I stood up and spoke against racism, fascism, xenophobia, gender discrimination, economic injustice, and now I am speaking up about a problem no less and no more important to me: speciesism.

The Case for Ethics

By analogy with racism and sexism, the term “speciesism” is a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species. [2]

It all ultimately boils down to power. Exploiting power against those who lack it. The pattern is same in slavery, exploitation of workers, or even domestic violence.

The principle of equality requires that one’s suffering should be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being.

Animals are in many ways different to us. But in many other ways, animals are just like us. They have families. They care, they grieve, they feel pain. They love. They’re sharing the planet Earth with us in this fleeting moment of existence. Like us, they are of the world and aware of it.

On a planet so much older and more complex than any of us, why do we think we have the right to systematically kill, exploit and torture other living beings just for having taken a different form and/or it is pleasurable to us? Animals are not ours. They exemplify the mystic, the sacred, the consciousness. They are alive. They are sentient.

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The Case for the Planet

Personally, I connect to the ethics argument easily. Many people don’t, at least not immediately. If you struggle to relate to the points made above, try considering a vegan diet for your future and future of the entire planet.

Animal agriculture is the leading driver of climate change – the biggest danger to our survival. It is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. [3]

A person who follows a vegan diet produces 50% less CO2, and uses 1/11th of oil, 1/13th of water and 1/18th of land compared to a meat eater.[4]

The worst thing is, emissions for agriculture are projected to increase 80% by 2050. [5] Appetite for meat is rocketing as the global population swells and becomes more able to afford meat.

Why is animal agriculture so detrimental?

We use incredible amounts of land, water and plants to farm animals. For example, you’d save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you would if you didn’t shower for six months.

Digestive processes of animals used for food account for large amounts of harmful methane.

Animal agriculture is also responsible for more water pollution than all other industrial sources combined. We are also ruining rainforests. All for that extra piece of meat on our plate. Specifically, 55 square feet of rain forest for every single meal with meat. About seven football fields of land are bulldozed worldwide every minute to create more room for farmed animals.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

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The Case for the Health

 You don’t really think animals deserve to be treated like us? You are not really bothered by what happens to the planet in the next few decades?

Okay. What about this?

Coronary heart disease, which is linked to a meat-based diet, is the leading cause of death in the UK (as an example). On average, 224 people die of heart disease in this country each day.

According to the findings, 50g of processed meat a day – the equivalent of one sausage or less than two slices of bacon – increases the chance of developing bowel cancer by 18 per cent.[6]

Well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer – as previously mentioned.
You can get all the necessary nutrients eating vegan (yes you can get enough protein) without all the nasties like animal fat or saturated fat. Meat is also often contaminated with blood, feces, hormones and other bodily fluids. Probably because they’re from live creatures.

Ew.

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Final Thoughts

 Well, my thoughts are not so final. I could write hundreds of pages, but I believe this is a good start. I’ll be writing more about the practical steps you can take to become a vegan, the cruelty of animal industry, the climate change and veganism, and I will also “myth bust” topics like “being vegan is expensive”, “I can’t do it in my family/country” and “you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet”. All of it just can’t fit into one article.

A lot of us eat meat because that’s how everyone around us eats. It’s not a choice to eat meat if you have never actually made a conscious choice to do so.

Finally, I’m not here to judge. I’ve been a meat eater myself for 23 years. I want to help inform and inspire those considering the lifestyle, and even those who are not. I want to speak about one of my strongest beliefs.

And finally, I want to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Our fellow Earthlings.

P.S. I strongly recommend you watch the following:

  1. Earthlings
  1. Cowspiracy
  1. Forks Over Knives
  1. The Greatest Speech You’ll Ever Hear

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